What’s going on here?
Jordi Casamitjana, claims to have been sacked because of his ‘religion’, veganism. In light of this, a tribunal is set to decide whether veganism is akin to religion and should be protected in law.
What does this mean?
League Against Cruel Sports (LACS), Jordi’s former place of work, claimed that he was fired because of gross misconduct. Jordi’s sacking came after he discovered and released information that LACS was investing in companies that carried out animal testing.
Jordi has stated that he is an ‘ethical vegan’, drawing comparisons between his belief in veganism and religious faith. So, what is an ethical vegan? Ethical vegans exclude themselves from all forms of animal exploitation: They avoid clothes made from wool or leather and refuse the use of toiletries from companies involved in animal experimentation.
The issue is set to be decided by a tribunal and if it is decided that veganism is a religion that needs to be protected by the law, then LACS could be in breach of the Equality Act 2010. This will be fast-tracked to a full trial if that is what the tribunal decides.
What is the big picture effect?
This decision could revolutionise the perception of veganism. Jordi’s solicitor, Peter Daly, described this as a ‘landmark case’ which will help fend off ‘discrimination against vegans in employment’. Therefore, such a decision will transform the definition of what a qualified ‘religion or belief’ is under the Equality Act, and employment lawyers should bear this in mind to avoid putting their clients in a sticky situation with their vegan employees.
Commercial law firms have fallen into a trend of promoting diversity and inclusion. For example, Freshfields (a magic circle law firm) made it clear on their website that they want to ‘create a welcoming, positive and supportive environment in which all can flourish regardless of religion’. If Freshfields made an animal testing company one of its clients, then this ‘positive and supportive environment’ would cease to exist for their ‘ethical vegan’ employees. With that being said, making veganism a recognised religion could limit the range of clients that firms can collaborate with if they aim on pursuing a diverse and inclusive culture in the workplace.
Report written by Joshua L.
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